Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tiger Disco fire: French, British named as probable victims

PHUKET: Patong Police Superintendent Jirapat Phochanaphan this afternoon confirmed to the Phuket Gazette that police were now investigating at least three more missing persons now suspected of being victims of the Tiger Discotheque fire that killed four people early Friday morning.

“Police are investigating four people named as missing. We will ask for DNA samples to be provided so they can be sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Bangkok for verification,” Col Jirapat told the Gazette.

Of the three “new” missing persons being investigated, he identified one as a Frenchman named “Emmanuel”.

The Frenchman became a suspected victim of the fire after a friend said he recognized a watch still on one of the bodies on Friday.

One of the other new suspected victims is believed to have been British. Police are expected to release the man’s name later today.

Two Thais being investigated as suspected victims were named as Duangporn Butkor, 32, and Nipharat Sutthasorn, 36, from Nong Bua Lumphu, near Udon Thani.

Atthapol Butkor told police that his sister, Ms Duangporn, had been missing since Friday.

She worked for a hotel in Patong and on that night she took hotel guests to Tiger Disco, so he thought she might be one of the victims of the fire, he said.

However, after inspecting the bodies, he could not positively identify his sister’s remains among them.

“She usually wore two rings on the same finger, but after checking the bodies I could see only one ring on the correct finger, so I am not sure,” he said.

Ms Nipharat became a suspected victim after a female friend reported that Nipharat went to Tiger Disco on the night of the fire. She has not been seen since.

Police believe at least one of the victims was female or a transgender person as they found silicone implants under the breasts.

The friend asked to see that body in particular, but found she was unable to make a positive identification.

News of the “new” suspected victims follows a female Thai staffer who worked at Tiger Disco reporting on Friday that she identified a watch and a bracelet found on one of the bodies.

However, she too was unable to make a positive identification.

All four of the bodies found in the aftermath of the fire have now been transferred from Patong Hospital to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Bangkok, where any tests for identification will take place.

Sunday 19 august 2012

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Typhoon Kai-Tak claims 27 lives as floods hit north Vietnam

At least 27 people have been killed during a typhoon which swept across northern provinces of Vietnam over the weekend, officials have said.

The storm, which made landfall late Friday, brought strong winds and heavy rains that inundated several densely populated communities including part of the capital Hanoi.

Typhoon Kai-Tak made landfall on Friday, bringing intense rain and strong winds.

Nearly 12,000 houses were damaged and 56,800 acres (23,000 hectares) of cropland were flooded, officials said.

Some of those who died were carried away by floodwaters, one died in a flood-triggered landslide.

In the capital, Hanoi, where some 200 large trees were uprooted, one taxi driver was killed when a tree fell on his car.

In Bac Giang province a 46-year-old woman died after a hill near her house collapsed in the middle of the night.

On Sunday, parts of Hanoi remained flooded and residents complained that flash floods still posed a risk despite insistence from the authorities that drainage in the capital had been improved.

The Vietnamese army had prepared 20,000 soldiers, along with helicopters, rescue boats and canoes for rescue operations, but only a small number were actually deployed, reports Agence France Presse news agency.

China's Xinhua news agency said that the typhoon had also left two dead and two others missing as it passed across parts of southern China on Friday, destroying some 4,200 homes in Guangdong province.

Sunday 19 August 2012

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Eleven killed in Mexico bus accident

DURANGO: Eleven people were killed and 23 others injured Friday when a bus headed to the Pacific resort town of Mazatlan fell into a mountain ravine, local officials said.

The bus "was carrying seniors going from Tlaxcala to Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast, for a Christian convention," said Durango state civil defense official Arturo Galindo.

It plummeted about 165 feet (50 meters) into a ravine in the Sierra Madre. The driver and his assistant died on impact.

The incident occurred less than a month after the deaths of 26 people in another bus accident.

President Felipe Calderon said earlier this week that traffic accidents cause the deaths of some 16,000 people annually, making Mexico's roads the seventh most deadly in the world.

Sunday 19 August 2012

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Police probe disco fire in Phuket after they failed to identify bodies including a possible Thai ladyboy

POLICE are still searching for clues after a fire in a Thai nightclub killed four people, and have ruled out claims an electrical transformer explosion during a storm was to blame.

Authorities are appealing for hotel owners to report any missing guests as they try to to identify the bodies of the four people who died in the Phuket club, The Daily Mail reports.

The four victims are reportedly a French national, two Japanese men and a Thai 'man or woman'.

Officials cannot confirm identities.

The Thai person's gender is in doubt as they found a silicone breast implant at the club, but the local area is known for having a high population of transsexual 'ladyboys'.

A Patong hospital spokesman said: "We cannot even tell whether the bodies are male or female."

The cause was initially put down to a lightning strike on a nearby electrical generator but Phuket's electricity authority ruled out claims a transformer explosion during a storm was to blame for the Tiger Disco fire tragedy which claimed four lives and left 11 people with serious burn injuries, The Bangkok Post reports.

Phuket police said they were still investigating whether the disco was operating beyond the 2am closing time and if the disco, which is decorated with foam sculptures of tigers and snakes, had breached safety regulations because of modifications.

The investigation comes after an Australian told of seeing "people running on fire" after the blaze broke out.

The fire ripped through the Tiger club, popular with foreign tourists, in Patong - Phuket's west coast tourist hub - after a lightning strike.

"There are four confirmed dead. We believe they are foreign tourists, but it's not yet confirmed,'' Phuket deputy governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada told AFP by telephone.

Darwin man Jaryd Kemp, 26, told the Northern Territory News: "It's been a crazy night like all nights are in Thailand, but things went bad when lightning hit power lines and transformer exploded five metres away from me causing sparks and blue flames shooting off it.

"People on fire running out of the club like you would see in a movie," he said.

"When I heard the reports of only four dead I couldn't believe that.

"I'm safe just exhausted. Patong is my second home to Darwin and had to make sure all my friends were OK."

Four French tourists were among those injured, one - 30-year-old Benjamin Tallanotte - with burns to 40 percent of his body.

The hospital listed the other Frenchmen treated for less serious burns as Nycolas Robyn, 25, Mathieu Lagrange, 40, and Yasmine Khelaef-Humber, 31, along with seven Thais.

Survivor Kanyaporn Kantong, 25, who was one of several victims treated for burns at Patong Hospital, told Phuket Wan Tourism News: ''Someone pushed me out the door. I owe them my life.'

Hundreds of people were in the disco at the time, she said.

''We saw the smoke but I thought it was a disco special effect. Then I looked up at the disco ball and saw the flames.

''We knew then that it was serious. I didn't know which way to go. Luckily, someone pushed me in the right direction.''

It took more than an hour for firemen to get the blaze under control.

"We received more than 20 people who sustained injuries from the Tiger pub fire. Most are suffering from suffocation," a hospital worker told ABC.

"Two are in critical condition from severe burns. One of them is a French man who suffered burns on his torso.

"The four dead bodies were burnt beyond recognition. We cannot identify even their gender."

The fire broke out early today at the late-night Tiger disco in the town of Patong, a magnet for foreign tourists on the southern island , almost two hours after all bars and other venues in Patong are meant to close.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was saddened by the news.

"The Australian embassy in Bangkok and the Australian Honorary Consul in Phuket are urgently liaising with local authorities to determine whether any Australians are affected,'' a DFAT spokesperson said.

"Thai authorities are yet to advise us on the nationalities of those affected."

This morning's blaze ripped through the premises at the back of the Tiger complex, exposing beams along about 30 metres of the structure.

A large crowd of onlookers was held back as ambulances backed down the laneway to pick up the bodies in the club., which is on the corner with Soi Bangla.

The manager of the Tiger Discotheque, Tamrongsak Boonsak, said the fire broke out about 2am.

''People heard two blasts and it was originally thought that it was further down Soi Bangla,'' he said.

''We will do what we can to help those who have been injured and to help the families of those who have died.''

The fire is the worst in a Thailand nightclub since the fire at the Santika in Bangkok on New Year's Eve 2009 killed 62 people.

If anyone is concerned about someone being in the Patong area of Phuket there is a 24 Hour Consular Emergency Centre: Call 1300 555 135 within Australia (local call cost) or +61 2 6261 3305 from outside Australia.

Sunday 19 August 2012

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Sudan plane crash kills all 32 on board

32 people including at least one Sudanese minister were killed when a plane taking them to an Islamic festival crashed in the south of the country.

The plane went down into mountains around Talodi, a town in the border state of South Kordofan, while bringing a government delegation there to celebrate the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the state news agency Suna said. Twenty-six passengers were killed, it added, and the dead included ministers but did not name them.

Abdel Hafiz Abdel Rahim, a civil aviation spokesman, told Reuters 32 people were killed including the crew, but had no details about their identities.

The Arabic satellite channel Al Arabiya said the plane was carrying the guidance and endowments minister, Khalil Abdalla. Al Jazeera reported two ministers had been on board, but did not name them.

Citing Sudanese authorities, Al Jazeera reported that security personnel and a media team were also killed in the crash. It did not say whether the plane involved belonged to the state-owned Sudan Airways or another carrier.

There have been several crashes in recent years involving Sudan Airways, which has been worn down by years of US sanctions and other issues. A cargo plane crashed when it was taking off in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and another cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Khartoum in 2008.

Oil-producing South Kordofan borders South Sudan, which seceded more than a year ago. The border state has been at the centre of an insurgency since shortly before South Sudan's independence.

Sudan's government accused rebels of killing a state official and seven other people there in July. A spokesman for the main rebel group in the area, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North, said it had nothing to do with the plane crash on Sunday.

Sunday 19 august 2012

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